IN THE HEYDAYS OF HIS EYES
(taut jeans dancing)

An Anthology of Poetry about Being Young and Growing Up
 
 
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THE CANARIES IN UNCLE ARTHUR'S BASEMENT

Ed Ochester

In the white house in Rutherford the ancient upright piano never worked and the icy kitchen smell of Spic 'n Span. Aunt Lizzie's pumpkin pie turned out green and no one ate it but me and I did because it was the green of the back porch. That was the Thanksgiving it rained and I first thought of rain as tears, because Aunt Lizzie was in tears because Arthur came home from the soccer game drunk and because he missed dinner, brought a potted plant for each female relative and walked around the table kissing each one as Lizzie said "Arthur, you fool, you fool," the tears running down her cheeks as Arthur's knobby knees wobbled in his referee's shorts, and his black-striped filthy shirt wet from the rain looked like a convict's. What did I know? I thought it meant something. I thought no one would ever be happy again. I thought if I were Uncle Arthur I'd never again come out from the dark basement where he raised canaries, the cages wrapped in covers Aunt Lizzie sewed, and where, once, when I was very small and because Uncle Arthur loved me or loved his skill or both he slowly removed the cover from a cage and a brilliant gold bird burst into song.

 
 
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